Monday, November 19, 2012

Thoughts on the Mideast Escalation

I find as I get older that things bother me more. I find having children especially, that it's harder to ignore images of violence and suffering, because you know that's somebody's child.  And maybe that's why I feel led to say something, despite feeling ill-equipped to make sense of the escalating troubles in the Middle East.  More than anything at the moment I feel humbled, knowing the thoughts that have been going on in my own mind the last number of months, while living in one of the safest and most prosperous nations on earth.  You know what I've been thinking?  Since the election of the PQ in Quebec in September, I've been thinking that all I need is a little road (we'll put English signs on it just to get them going), a few restaurants and maybe a motel or two, to get me through to my beloved Nova Scotian coastline, and they can have the place! I figure we can argue that we paid enough already for the road.  And that's in Canada, with a mere several centuries of conflict, with very similar cultures, beliefs, languages, and lots of space to argue over. I've got nothing to complain about.  I walked my kids to school this morning; they don't have to worry about their school being bombed. They don't hear rockets or drones overhead on a daily basis. I have no idea. The things we take for granted, and yet our own divisions in the west, divisions of left and right,of language, politics and ideology seem insurmountable at times. At least they continue to be verbal.

So what do you say, knowing how good you have it?  I don't know what to say, so I'll just let you in on some of my thoughts. I find it very tempting to pick sides, and I gather the media has the same temptation.  I feel for Israel, having been kicked around for thousands of years, beaten down slowly and very nearly exterminated, to finally be allowed to return to their homeland, only to realize their struggle to survive is not over, because it is another people's homeland too. And how would we feel being occupied, being forced from our homes?  But to me, the thing that seems the most surreal in all of this, is the thought that they're related peoples, through a distant father Abraham. It's what amounts to the oldest family feud on record, how do you wrap your head around that? And how can two peoples, with a common origin, stressing the same big commonality, one God, remain so far apart?

All my life I've admired people who were under great opposition and oppression, and yet who chose peaceful means to advocate for their own and others' rights. And so I admit, I don't understand why it seems like the Palestinians don't have the same concept of peaceful protest.  I'm just being honest here. Yet, I have no trouble believing that there are legitimate grievances on both sides, and that a lot of innocent people have suffered.  When I hear statements by Hamas, that they want to "wipe Israel off the map," I have a hard time believing that this will ever end, and it does seem that it is ideology (on all sides), that affects how we look at this futuristically.  How can we not, with such a rich and deep history, the majority of the world's inhabitants identifying with this singular epic struggle towards an ultimate end.  Having said that,  I can see why secularists would look at this as an example of the harm that religion causes, because it divides.  Mind you, it's not just about religion is it, it's about real estate at a very base level, very strategically placed real estate in world geographic terms.  They seem to often miss that point, while assuming there is no grounding for the major world faiths.

I need to get going, so let me just conclude that as a follower of Jesus, I do believe that despite the present suffering, that there will be a day when we see a lasting peace, in the world and in ourselves, through the Prince of Peace, Jesus.  This is my hope, speaking personally. But having said that, I think we also have to be careful, speaking to my fellow Christians here, because as much as we need to be spiritually prepared, we must admit that we don't know the day. I fear that in assuming that Christ's return is immanent, that we as Christians may be missing opportunities to work for peace in the meantime, and in so doing, damage our credibility with our interpretive assumptions and political alignments. As Jesus commanded, let us not forget to love others unconditionally, to help those who are suffering on both sides, to reach across divisions, as long as there is time.

Thanks for listening,

M.A. Harvey

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